I have decided to reinvent myself as a distance runner. "Runner" might be a bit of a stretch, since my pace wavers between walking and jogging, but joggers don't do races, right? Regardless, thanks to Team Philly, I made it to and through the 10 mile Broad Street Run on May 1st this year. My goal was just to finish, which is good because my time was nothing to write home about. But I felt really good during the race, like I could keep it up all day. And it's a really great course, so it was tons of fun. I was beat at the end because I decided to push the speed a little in the last mile (which might mean I approached a 10 min/mile pace at times), and that finished me off pretty well. But I felt really good that I had "juice" left to do that. Prior to the race the longest we ran was 8.4 miles, so my distance PR is now 10.
But I think I've caught "the bug". I really like longer distance runs. It almost seems like a run just isn't worth it if it isn't at least 5 miles now. Not that shorter ones can't still be tough, and I definitely have bad days (lots of them), and it's work. Somewhere along the way, though, it became very true that "it's all relative". So, I decided this is the year. I'm registered for the Philadelphia Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon (in September), and as soon as I finish scraping together the dough I'm registering for the Philadelphia Marathon - the full one - in November. Am I crazy, you might ask? Why would I want to run a marathon? Great question. I am sure I should do some soul-searching and come up with some excellent, motivational answers to keep me going through the tough times. But at the moment, it just seems like the time is right and it is something awesome to do. To prove to myself I can do it? It might take me 5:30 to finish, but hey, I'd consider it an accomplishment to cross the finish line. After all, not everyone can say they've run 26.2 miles at one time. And I'm confident I can run 13.1 now (or at least, by the time I finish training, since I've slacked off since Broad Street), but I'm only pretty sure I can do the full 26.2. Plus, I really need a big goal to keep me on track. Lacking that, I've realized I don't really exercise. The pull of the couch/tv/book/crafty things/home things/whatever just gets too strong and I don't make time for it. It's too easy to fake it for a 5K, so it needs to be a substantial distance for me to keep on track. I think 26.2 miles ought to do it....
What, one might ask, does any of this have to do with food? I thought I was reading a food blog? Well, everything! Because to do (what some might consider) crazy things like run 13+ miles, one must fuel one's body! So I have been thinking a lot about foods to fuel running. Not that I didn't already think a lot about the quality of food I ate (though I still love my desserts, mind you), but this is a bit of a new spin. I picked up a copy of Brendan Brazier's Thrive Fitness, which has some recipes to try. In case you're not aware, Brazier is an awesome athlete, who happens to be vegan. He has put tons of thought and effort into excellent plant-based fuel for athletic endeavors, so his books are a great resource. Incidentally, he also has his own line of products, but the many of the recipes in the book are "from scratch" and don't require anything from his line - just good, whole foods. I have also been reading the No Meat Athlete blog which has some more great recipes and tips.
In this vein, I will finally share a (rough) recipe. It's not original, many people have version posted online, feel free to search and get more variations. But it is easy, super healthy, requires no cooking, and is delicious!
1/4 cup chia seeds (Salvia seeds, also Salba)
2 cups non-dairy milk (whatever is your favorite!)
That's all you really need. You stir the seeds and the milk together, and let it sit for at least a 1/2 hour in the fridge. It will magically thicken, turning into a puddingy/gel texture, and the seeds get soft. It is sort of reminiscent of tapioca. Now, to make it more exciting, you can add any chopped dried fruits or nuts you desire, or fresh fruit, cocoa (I've been sprinkling on some Ghiradelli drinking chocolate mix which is basically cocoa with a little sugar), whatever you desire. I've blended up some pitted dates with a little of the milk and stirred that in to make it sweeter. Dates are an excellent way to sweeten things healthfully and offer great instant energy for exercising! Chia seeds are wonderful - an excellent source of omega-3's, easily digested but high in fiber, and a good protein source. So basically, perfect running fuel. I've had this "pudding" for both breakfast and dessert, often with a sliced banana.
Give it a try, and I hope to be reporting on lots more delicious vegan recipes that fuel my running - or an everyday active life!